Learning to Say ‘No’


After going on a beautiful, sunny vacation with my family for a week, I realized how much I desire a slower pace of life. We were busy, but our vacations, in general, have limited time crunching situations. No deadlines. Just quality family time. As we drove back from the southern part of the country, I stopped to think about how I could make my everyday life feel similar to this.  Carefree. Stress-free. Just pure family joy.

There was one word that came to mind that would help me achieve this: No.

 ‘No’ is just a powerful word. It is often thought of as a negative word (i.e., your toddler yelling this word back at you or even being told you didn’t get your dream job). Kids often see it as a negative word with being told they are not able to do something that they desperately want to do. But we, as parents, often see it as keeping them safe, making them better people, and learning boundaries. You have to be taught. Hmmm. Maybe as adults, we have to be retaught this word.

The word ‘no’ can also be a positive word. Right now, in my life, I need to learn to say this word more often. And I am not just talking about saying ‘no’ to my nightly ice cream addiction. We, as parents, often take on every project, committee, and role that comes our way. Is that truly bringing us more happiness or just more stress? If you answered stress, let’s start to practice saying the two-letter word….N-O!

I have been taking on a few too many projects outside of my normal full-time job. On our road trip back, I realized I need to pump the brakes (no pun intended…okay maybe just a little). Realizing that I have so many aspects of my life that bring me joy and right now getting mean over text to fellow church members is not bringing me any amount of joy. 

At work, I stopped signing up for the extra evening events. Does that make me a bad teacher? Not at all. It allows me to spend more time with my family and bring additional happiness to my life. Plus it allows me downtime because as many know, a teacher’s brain never stops thinking about school.

Have you realized how many of these extra things you sign up to do, and you wish you were doing something else or you are doing it out of obligation?  I genuinely believe in the goodness of volunteering your time. I think it is extremely important to give your time, whether it be to the school PTO or your local food pantry. Just don’t forget about you and your needs.

So, just like we teach our kids about the word “no,” I want you to start saying the word ‘no’  to yourself to get your boundaries back in check. Find your inner joy, and realize no mom can do it all. If you think they are, you probably don’t know what is happening behind closed doors. At the end of the day, what is going to mean more to you: baking another 4 dozen cookies for the school bake sale tomorrow or snuggling on the couch reading 4 books with your sweet little ones?

Remember, your happiness matters. No one gets a gold star for doing it all.